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July 18, 2018

Citing Threat to Maine Lobster Economy, King Pushes For Climate Action on Senate Floor

“You borrow something from your neighbor, you return it in as good a shape as you found it – and that's what we should be doing today.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) spoke on the Senate floor about the threat climate change poses to Maine’s lobster economy.

“Since the 1980's, the poundage of lobsters harvested in Maine has grown 500%,” said Senator King during his speech. “That's the good news. The bad news is it's starting to change, and we may have seen the turning point in this boom…The bad news is when water temperature gets to about 68 degrees, it's like turning a switch. And it stresses the lobster population to the point where they can't survive… The center of gravity of lobstering along the Maine coast is steadily moving North and East…The other problem that's occurring is that the lobsters are going further off shore to seek cooler water, which means the lobstermen have to go further, they have to have bigger boats, they have to make more of an investment in order to make a living.

“To me, there's a really easy rule that makes this easy to understand, and what our responsibilities are. I call it the ‘Maine Rototiller Rule’. Many people in Maine have gardens -- but it's a small garden, it's in your back yard so it doesn't make sense for everybody to buy a rototiller, the machine you use once or twice a year to clean out your garden and till over the garden and begin to plant. So we borrow them! I used to borrow one from my neighbor Peter Cox. The Maine Rototiller Rule goes like this: when you borrow your neighbor's rototiller, you return it to them in as good as shape as when you got it with a full tank of gas. Mr. President, that's all you need to know about environmental stewardship.

“Because you know what? We've got the planet on loan. We don't own it. We own a little piece of land for a generation – but we don’t own it. We have it on loan from our children and grandchildren and their grandchildren. We have a sacred responsibility to turn over the planet to them in the same or better shape than we found it. That's our responsibility. Very simple. You borrow something from your neighbor, you return it in as good a shape as you found it and that's what we should be doing today. We can do this. There will be costs, but the cost of not doing it will dwarf the cost that we can undertake today to protect the Gulf of Maine…We can start today. And we may not live to see the results, but we will know that we've done something important, something meaningful, something that will make a difference in the lives of generations that we don't know. And they will know what we do or what we don't do. I myself choose the side of action, recognizing the problem, analyzing it, understanding it, and acting to mitigate the harms that otherwise will befall our children.”

Often seen around the Capitol in one of his several lobster ties, Senator King has been a vocal advocate for the lobster industry throughout his time in the Senate. He has consistently fought against environmental risks to the industry, including strongly opposing the President’s decision to exit the Paris Climate Agreement and pushing back against a Department of Interior proposal that would open up the Gulf of Maine to offshore drilling. Senator King has also sought be an ambassador for the lobster in any way possible; in February, following a push from Senator King, the Unicode Consortium announced that it would add a lobster emoj ito the list of available characters. He has also cosponsored the resolution to designate September 25th as “National Lobster Day”, and in September 2017 he focused on the importance of the lobster industry in an episode of his podcast Inside Maine.

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